Saturday, 17 October 2009

Whingy car lovers

Whinging again - recent letters in the Cambrian News (Thu 17 Sept 09, p20)

Yes, the annual whinge about traffic in Llanbadarn Fawr has begun again. As well as NIMBY snivelling for a bypass again - i.e. wanting to destroy part of an SSSI for more roads - there are now requests for a 'slip road' - which would again involve building roads on greenfield sites. Councillor Paul James wants a solution to 'the current rush-hour gridlock' caused by 'daily traffic jams'. The solution is simple. The people in the gridlock should leave their cars at home and walk, bus or cycle; and Councillors should be setting an example there, not adding to the traffic with their own car journeys. While our culture remains focussed on the laziness of short-distance drives with single-person vehicle occupancy, traffic jams are inevitable: ruining the environment in order to make things more pleasant for irresponsible motorists is hardly the solution.

Councillors Paul James and Gareth Davies show their anti-environmental support for expensive and destructive road-building schemes, as illustrated in their 'Llanbadarn Fawr Newsletter' (September 09). Sadly they distribute this widely but don't even use recycled paper for it - a further burden on the environment.

In the Cambrian News on 17th September there were also calls for straightening and re-alignment of 'dangerous' roads (particularly the A487). However it is not the roads that are dangerous, it's the drivers on them. Faster, straighter roads unfortunately lead to faster driving, a false sense of security, and potentially more accidents. If we want the roads to be safer, they should stay as they are but with speed bumps every ten metres. That would lead to a positive decrease in speeding, and the amount of traffic...

At the end of the day the calls for a bypass are short sighted and unsustainable. Scientific research concludes that: (a) oil is running out; (b) climate change is a reality facing the entire world, and (c) traffic use needs to be reduced now in order to be prepared for future scarcity of oil, and to reduce traffic's contribution to climate change. Building more roads, making roads faster to drive on and accommodating more traffic will not solve these long term issues, but it will add to climate change, air and noise pollution, and degradation of the environment (the latter of which is heavily promoted to tourists as the best bit of Ceredigion). The Welsh Assembly Government's transport strategy aims to: "put transport onto a more sustainable and less carbon-intensive path". Now is therefore the perfect time to present much better alternatives to try to reduce, not increase, road traffic e.g. investing in cycle lanes, lots of cheap and reliable buses, car sharing schemes etc., instead of building more and more roads.

Update, Thursday 7th January 2010: Today at 8.45 AM there were only two vehicles in Llanbadarn on Primrose Hill, where there would normally be a hundred blocking the road. Also today the local schools were closed as a precaution due to 'snow', even though in reality it isn't bad at all. This shows how much of the local traffic is school-run based, and therefore a bypass would do nothing to reduce traffic in Llanbadarn Fawr. More roads won't fix a car-addicted culture, they just encourage it.

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